Ever since I was a little girl, I admired Orenburg Shawls (also called Gossamer Webs) that some people owned around me in Russia. They are so beautiful and gentle-looking, that they make any woman who puts one on feel like she is immersed in luxury. Nobody in my family had this shawl, so I never really saw it very close. I also was in awe of the workmanship of such shawls. It was not even in my vocabulary to say that some day I will be knitting one of those. You know, some things you look at like they are in the museum and it is not anything that you can just make yourself. When I saw books by Galina Khmeleva where she not only talks talks about the history of the Orenburg Shawl but explains how to make them, I bought them and put them on my shelf with the intent to get the right yarn and just jump into this big project. Well... I never really did. The books are still staring at me from the shelf and I know what they are thinking... O.k. I admit. I was scared. This is not your ordinary knitting. I did not have the right yarn either.
Last year at Stitches I have met Galina Khmeleva who was teaching classes on lace, but I did not take her class. I wanted to do that, but so everyone else. Her classes were sold out very quickly. I was happy to have a chat with her at that time and I thought that she was very interesting. I felt like I know her for a long time. That alone helped me to get into the mood of taking her class. So, this time, a year later, I did. It was a 6-hour class. We made all kinds of swatches, listened to Galina who was telling us about history, practicality of these shawls, stories of her life related to this topic. She showed us how to design with these patterns, how to block the finished shawl (that on its own is a spectacular presentation) and many many other very useful things. Since I am teaching professionally, I have to say she worked so hard and I imagine she was sooo tired after that class. I did not notice how tired I was until I got in my car with my friend Mary Beth Temple to go to a restaurant. I did not know the area near the Convention Center of Santa Clara, CA, but I knew the area in San Jose where there are many restaurants. So, we were talking, I was driving following my GPS lady's directions. When I realized that we are going in the loops, I knew I was tired and did not really do what I was told. I was so grateful that Mary Beth, who was very hungry and tired, was not angry with me. We did have a nice dinner after all.
The result of my taking this class is that Galina took my fear away. I probably would not attempt to make a big shawl. I do not think I will be using it if I did. I can definitely see myself designing a smaller shawl with the techniques and elements of Orenburg shawls. I am energized by this wonderful teacher and you might see my designs inspired by her. Watch the interviews on the Designer's Studio. She will participate in this project soon.